The Mac's 40th Anniversary

As you no doubt know, today’s the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Macintosh! I hope that you have something special planned to celebrate the occasion.

You can listen online to Mac luminaries speaking tonight at the Computer History Museum:

UPDATE: January 28, 2024 11:29 PM

A recording of the event is available on YouTube:


Here’s a rundown of the “oddest and rarest” Macs:


Here’s a post on this topic from Seth Godin. Normally, I tend to think what he says is pretty insightful, but I think in this case, he’s missing the point that Apple has continued to want to change the culture—and succeeded with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch—but it gets harder and harder to do so all the time. I may have my doubts about the Vision Pro, but it’s definitely an attempt to change the world, even if the hardware won’t be to the level that Apple really wants for years to come.


And I was hugely amused to find my old friend @david26 at the start of this article!


It’s a live video on YouTube, so you’ll be able to watch it. The link leads to a free registration form. I don’t know if you’ll need to sign in to watch, but it wouldn’t hurt to register if you’re interested.

The Steve Jobs Archive sent this email, which, oddly, I can’t find on its website.

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Steve Jobs in Susan Kare’s office cubicle, 1984. Photograph by Norman Seeff.612xauto

40 years of the Macintosh

When photographer Norman Seeff arrived at Apple’s offices in January 1984, he didn’t know what to expect. An editor at Rolling Stone had told him only that this was a “weird company” full of hippies making computers. Now Seeff, along with reporter Steven Levy, was covering these “whiz kids” as they prepared to launch their latest product—a new machine called Macintosh.

The atmosphere inside the office was a world away from the power suits and perms typical of 1980s corporate America. An expensive Bӧsendorfer grand piano sat in the lobby; employees often played it during breaks. Nearby stood a first-generation Sony CD player hooked up to a gigantic pair of speakers. There were scooters. Pets. Babies. Everyone wore jeans; some even had bare feet.

“It looked like a commune,” says Seeff. “It was so alive.”

The staff had good reason to feel exuberant. The Macintosh aimed to be the first mass-market personal computer that was truly user-friendly. From seeds planted by others, including former Apple manager Jef Raskin and researchers at Xerox PARC and the Stanford Research Institute, this young team had worked around the clock to create a computer that was simple and sophisticated, designed to encourage creativity as much as to enhance productivity. Now they were just days away from launch.

Among the group’s one hundred staff, Seeff saw the small software team joking around in front of the colorful cubicle of designer Susan Kare. He grabbed his Nikon camera and started shooting rapid-fire. The team played along and then—hands on shoulders and knees on backs—assembled themselves into a human pyramid.

“I’m the lightest one, so I ended up on top,” says Rony Sebok, who had joined the Macintosh the previous summer as a software engineer. “It wasn’t a childish group: this was a bunch of mature people, even though we were young. But it was playful.”

Seeff snapped away.

Eleven members of the Macintosh software team (and one baby) arranged in a human pyramid, 1984. Photograph by Norman Seeff.612xauto
Top to bottom, from left: Rony Sebok, Susan Kare, Andy Hertzfeld, Bill Atkinson, Owen Densmore, Jerome Coonen, Bruce Horn, Steve Capps, Larry Kenyon, Donn Denman, Tracie Kenyon, and Patti Kenyon.

On top of the pile next to Sebok was Kare, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and jeans: she had designed the system’s fonts and icons, and her smiling Mac logo made the machine feel almost human. There was Bill Atkinson at the center, with his striped sweater, glasses, and mustache: his graphics software was key to making the Macintosh so easy to use. Next to him in a bright red T-shirt was Andy Hertzfeld, a primary architect of its brave new operating system. The pyramid seemed a perfect encapsulation of the wider Macintosh team: talented individuals combining to build something stronger than any of them could make alone.

The group continued goofing around until the pyramid collapsed, everyone laughing.

Steve Jobs, who had managed the Macintosh team since 1981, had been peeking in on the shoot throughout. As the group fell to the ground, he saw his opportunity and joined the end of the huddle.

Seeff kept shooting.
Thirteen members of the Macintosh software team, a baby, and Steve Jobs, 1984. Photograph by Norman Seeff.612xauto
From left: Randy Wigginton, Jerome Coonen, Donn Denman, Rony Sebok, Andy Hertzfeld, Bruce Horn, Bill Atkinson, Susan Kare, Owen Densmore, Steve Capps, Larry Kenyon, Patti Kenyon, Tracie Kenyon, and Steve Jobs.

Steve knew that the very best work conveys the ideas and intentions of the people who created it. And he believed deeply that this team of engineers, designers, and programmers, who were also sculptors, photographers, and musicians—a team that integrated technology and the liberal arts—could create a machine for everyday people, “a computer for the rest of us.”

At a time when computers were complex and difficult to use, it was a radical objective. To get there, Steve encouraged the team and protected them; he pushed them hard and shared his critiques. He asked them to sign their work like artists, even while reminding them that they were building a tool for others to use. “We’re going to walk into a classroom or an office or a home five years from now,” he promised, “and somebody’s going to be using a Macintosh for something we never dreamed possible.”

Not long after these photographs were taken, the Macintosh was announced to the world. The road ahead would not be straightforward—not for the product, not for the group who made it, and not for Steve himself. But one realization was clear even in January 1984: new things were now possible.

“I remember the week before we launched the Mac,” Steve recalled in 2007. “We all got together, and we said, ‘Every computer is going to work this way. You can’t argue about that anymore. You can argue about how long it will take, but you can’t argue about it anymore.’”


Nothing special planned, but have some fond memories and memorabilia.

About a week before the release date a bunch of sales folks from the various Apple dealers in the Edmonton area were summoned into a classroom in a downtown office building.

We walked into a room with around 24 machines. It was like nothing else I had seen.

After selling Apple ][‘s, ///‘s, Kaypro’s and Victor 9000’s, the 128k Mac was like something dropped down from another planet. The closest interface I had seen up close before touching a Mac was a Corvus Concept.

Still have some unique lapel pins, T-shirts and marketing items. And, I still have my Own-a-Mac shipping receipt for my first machine. The special offer to entice Apple dealer staff was a Mac, MacWrite, MacPaint, Multiplan and a carrying case for 1,495 CDN when the retail for the machine alone was 4,295.

Another link to history - when Dr. Owen Beattie saw the Mac released, he thought it would be the computer that would work best for his next trip north that summer. A Basic program on a 128k Mac was used to record data in the first exhumations from the Franklin expedition.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: The Macs you’ve owned over the years

The site has a boatload of photos of every Mac every made.

And Jason Snell has written a nice article for The Verge.


More from Jason, Dan Moren at Macworld, and Harry McCracken at Fast Company:

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Yes, the email that you posted was mentioned and was published in part this morning on AppleInsider:

Thanks, Adam! The reporter found me on LinkedIn somehow, and we had a delightful chat. I will admit that it’s a little misleading because my 128K Mac no longer runs. As I posted a few years ago, I just get a Sad Mac screen now. I would love to find someone in the Seattle area who could help make it work again, but I just haven’t had the time to explore.

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Cult of Mac has a nice article.

And Steven Levy has been around since the early days:


An amazing nugget from that article is that Apple maintained software support for the 128K Mac until 1998. Is this true? 14 years is a long time, especially for such a constrained machine.

I forgot that I wrote this April Fools article back in 2016:

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So not only the Mac but Tracie Kenyon is 40 years old now. Kind of puts things in perspective.

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The Science-Friday podcast (WNYC Studios) posted a circa 15.0 minute interview (with guests Andy Hertzfeld and Steven Levy) on Wed 24 Jan 2024, originally recorded/broadcast in January-2014, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Mac.

The 2014 interview that I found is a half-hour long.

Be sure to scroll down and look at the Related Links section

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Yep - circa 30.0 minutes is more like it.

Who’s Tracie Kenyon and what’s her relationship to the Mac?

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